Cell (Dragon Ball)

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Dragon Ball character
Cell lithograph.png
Cell's three forms as seen in the anime; Imperfect (left), Semi-Perfect (right) and Perfect (middle).
First appearance Dragon Ball chapter #361: "The Mysterious Monster, Finally Appears!!" (1992)
Created by Akira Toriyama
Voiced by Japanese
Norio Wakamoto[1][2]
Dameon Clarke (Funimation)[3]
Dale Wilson (Ocean)[4]
Travis Willingham (video games)
Species Artificial life form
Relatives Doctor Gero (creator)
Cell Juniors (offspring)

Cell (Japanese: セル Hepburn: Seru?) is a fictional character in the Dragon Ball manga series created by Akira Toriyama. He makes his debut in chapter #361 The Mysterious Monster, Finally Appears!! (謎の怪物、ついに出現!! Nazo no Kaibutsu, Tsui ni Shutsugen!!?), first published in Weekly Shōnen Jump on February 18, 1992.[5] Cell is an evil artificial life form, created using cells from several of the main characters in the series, that travels back in time so he can become the perfect being. In order to reach this goal, he must absorb Androids #17 and #18.

Creation and conception[edit]

After Kazuhiko Torishima, Toriyama's former editor during Dr. Slump and early Dragon Ball, expressed dissatisfaction with first Androids #19 and #20 and later Androids #17 and #18 as villains, Toriyama created Cell.[6][7] Toriyama has expressed some kind of regret regarding the design of Cell, calling it tedious to draw all the little spots on his body.[7] In addition, he did not initially plan for the character to be able to transform, but gave him this ability after his then-current editor Yū Kondō described Cell as "ugly."[6] Toriyama intended for Cell's second form to last longer than it did; Kondō found the form to be silly and urged him to hasten the first appearance of the next transformation.[8]

Cell originally evolves from a cicada-like form into his Imperfect Cell (不完全体セル Fukanzentai Seru?) form, which is still insect-like in appearance. Both his first form and his second Semi-Perfect Cell (半完全体セル Hankanzentai Seru?) form have a long tail that ends in a stinger-like appendage and allows it to absorb other organisms. The tail recedes under his wings in his final Perfect Cell (完全体セル Kanzentai Seru?) form, although he then uses it to spawn Cell Juniors (セルジュニア Seru Junia?), minuscule childlike versions of himself.


Dragon Ball[edit]

Cell is an artificial life form created by Doctor Gero's computer from cells of different warriors, possessing the genetic information of Goku, Vegeta, Piccolo, Freeza and King Cold, in an underground complex below Gero's secret research laboratory. Cell is designed to evolve into the perfect being by absorbing two of Gero's previous creations, Androids #17 and #18. But in the alternate future he is from, the two Androids were deactivated. After he kills the Trunks from his time, Cell regresses into an egg while using Trunks' time machine to travel back four years before the Androids appeared, taking him to the present timeline.[9] After hatching and metamorphosing into an insect-like humanoid, Cell kills off various people and absorbs them to increase his power in preparation to absorb the Androids.[10] After he manages to absorb the energy of entire cities of people, Cell defeats Piccolo before he finds and absorbs Android #17, locating him thanks to his fight with Piccolo since the Androids have no ki, to evolve into a large and more human-like form, after dispatching of Piccolo and combating Android #16.[11] Android #18 manages to evade him thanks to the intervention of Tenshinhan, who he attempts to kill but is prevented by the arrival of Goku who teleports Tenshinhan away with him before Cell can strike. Cell tracks Android #18 to an island and starts demolishing them to get her to appear before him. Cell quickly gets beaten by Vegeta,[12] who arrives before he can destroy the island that Android #18 is actually on.[13] But after convincing Vegeta to let him absorb Android #18, Cell assumes a more human-like and intelligent form. After quickly defeating Kuririn and Vegeta,[14] Cell fights Trunks who ascends to an advanced Super Saiyan state and defeats him as well thanks to the form's slowness in movement.[15]

Wanting to test his abilities and enjoying the fear he causes in others, Cell decides to hold his own fighting tournament known as the Cell Games (セルゲーム Seru Gēmu?) to find a worthy opponent to face him intending to destroy Earth when he wins. In the first round, he fights Goku. Although Goku puts up a decent struggle, he quits upon realizing Cell is stronger than him. Goku then nominates his son Gohan as Cell's next opponent to everyone's surprise. Though Gohan puts up a good fight, Cell takes the upper hand quickly due to Gohan's general dislike of hurting others, no matter how evil they are. Gohan warns Cell that if he is pushed too far, he will lose control of his power and likely kill him with no remorse, but Cell decides to make Gohan angry by shattering Android #16 to pieces and sending a group of Cell Juniors after the rest of the fighters. Gohan's rage begins to swell, and when Cell mercilessly crushes Android #16's head, Gohan transforms into Super Saiyan 2 and overwhelms the Cell Juniors and Cell himself who ultimately takes so much damage that he regurgitates Android #18 and reverts to his previous form.[16] In desperation, Cell tries to self-destruct and destroy the Earth, but Goku sacrifices himself to ensure that Cell detonates elsewhere.[17] Cell, however, returns in his final form after realizing that the genetics of Saiyans and Namekians have made him nearly immortal with the ability to reach further perfection as he tries to destroy the world and find stronger opponents elsewhere in the universe, killing Trunks and badly injuring both Vegeta and Gohan, Vegeta attacking Cell in retaliation for Trunks' death and Gohan unintentionally taking the blast while trying to save Vegeta from it. Luckily, Gohan, with Goku aiding in spirit, manages to destroy Cell once and for all after a climactic Kamehameha struggle.[18][19]

Once Trunks returns to his future timeline and destroys Androids #17 and #18, he is confronted by the Cell of his timeline, planning to kill Trunks and steal his time machine to travel to a time when the androids still exist. Trunks quickly becomes a Super Saiyan and effortlessly defeats Cell, ending his reign of terror for good and finally bringing peace to his future.

Post mortem and legacy[edit]

Years following his death, Gohan admits to Goku that he has decreased in power since his fight with Cell[20] while Piccolo later states that following his becoming a Majin, Vegeta's power has superseded that of Cell. Mr. Satan is celebrated by the people of Earth as the champion that bested Cell during the Cell Games, a lie he told right after Cell's death. However, his daughter Videl is skeptical of this from the time it supposedly happens and gets Gohan to confirm that he was the one who stopped Cell.[21] In later filler episodes of the anime, Cell makes numerous cameo appearances, usually as comic relief. In these appearances, he is shown causing trouble in Hell along with Freeza, King Cold and the Ginyu Force. He is defeated by Goku and Pikkon and sent to prison, and is later seen watching Goku's battle with Majin Boo on a crystal ball, openly wondering why Goku quit against him and then went on to fight Boo, whom he acknowledges to be a stronger opponent than himself.[22] A few years later, Goku imagines Cell in a training sequence, defeating him with a blow to the head.[23] When he travels back to the past again, Trunks reacts in confusion to seeing Goku alive as he remembers his death from Cell's self-destructing and not long after, Bulma is revealed to have retained the Time Capsule that Cell had stolen from Trunks to return to the present timeline. Cell is remembered by Trunks when he notes the differences between Gohan as a child, in particular when he fought Cell, and him as an adult upon meeting him for the first time in years.[24]

In other media[edit]

In Dragon Ball GT, after Goku is sent to Hell by accident, he confronts both Cell and Freeza, whose bodies have been rendered temporarily immortal due to the upset in the balance between the two worlds. Though Cell and Freeza trap Goku with their new joint attack and render him frozen by a witch living below,[25] they too are frozen after foolishly venturing down to gloat at him, and due to being dead, they are unable to thaw out like Goku did. Goku accidentally breaks the ice Cell and Freeza are trapped within to pieces, implying that Cell and Freeza have been erased from existence.[26] However, in a future scene, Freeza and Cell are seen being taken away in a jail cell with tape over their mouths.

Cell appears in a number of video games as a boss and playable character, most notably the Budokai, Budokai Tenkaichi and Raging Blast series. He is also a playable character in the Dragon Ball Z: Collectible Card Game. In several games, Cell has forms that have been created specifically for the installment. In Dragon Ball Z: Budokai, Cell has a nightmare where he accidentally absorbs Kuririn and becomes Cellin (セルリン Serurin?), the form making him weaker.[27] In the 2003 game Dragon Ball Z: Budokai 2, Cell is revived by Bobbidi and becomes a Majin, his appearance being altered with the letter "M" on his forehead alongside black lining appearing under his eyes. This form is short-lived, as Majin Boo terminates Bobbidi, Cell being absorbed afterward by Boo.[28] In the 2015 game Dragon Ball: Xenoverse, Cell appears as a mentor for the player, teaching the Perfect Kamehameha, Perfect Shot, All Clear and Gravity Impact to the player. Within the context of the game's story mode, Cell defeats Gohan while the alternate timeline version of the character from Trunks' timeline is able to reach his Perfect Form thanks to Towa strengthening him, though he is destroyed by the player and Trunks.[29] He also appears in a TV ad for Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods, questioning why he is not in the film while Freeza brags that he is, Cell then remarks that Freeza only has a non-speaking appearance.[30]

Voice actors[edit]

Norio Wakamoto has been Cell's Japanese voice actor in every single piece of Dragon Ball media.

Norio Wakamoto has voiced Cell in every piece of media for the Dragon Ball franchise.


Cell has superhuman strength, endurance and speed. He can create energy beams using ki, a form of energy from one's life force that he can sense. These energy beams range from being generic to having distinctive names and differing in color.

Cell has access to the abilities of the those whose cells he was created from, including the Kamehameha wave, a technique of Goku's, Tenshinhan's Solar Flare, Vegeta's Galick Gun and Freeza's Death Beam. Thanks to his cells from Piccolo, Cell has regenerative properties that allow him to regenerate portions of his body shortly after they have been destroyed, as he did during his battles with Vegeta and Goku. In the anime, Cell states that he can regenerate so long as his head remains intact, though this is contradicted by Goku blowing off the upper portion of his body, including his head and Cell still regenerating. It is retconned in a subsequent dub, with Cell stating that he can regenerate from just a single cell. After his near death, he gains the ability to use the Instant Transmission, another technique of Goku's which allows him to teleport by placing his fingers to the center of his head and thinking of his intended destination.

Cell's strength progresses over the course of his self-titled story arc. As Cell later explains, his strength is helped by his speed which contributes to the difficulty fighters have in battling him, as he appears to be without disadvantage. His consistent absorptions of human beings, who by in large are overwhelmingly weaker than him, allows for his strength to increase to the point where he easily bests Piccolo with a single punch when previously having had difficulty in facing him. After his absorption of Android #17, Cell's power increases to him being able to best Android #16, a fighter that had bested him in his previous form. The same is repeated with his Perfect form, as he easily conquers Vegeta who similarly to Android #16 won a fight against his past form, though in Vegeta's case severely outclassed him. After nearly being killed by his own self-destruction, Cell's strength is amplified to the point of rivaling Super Saiyan 2 Gohan and easily disposing of both Trunks and Vegeta.

Cell consistently uses absorption as a practice of growing stronger. In his first appearances, Cell uses his tail to pierce the skin of a victim to gain entry into their body, the tail then sucking out the organic matter of the subject and leaving behind clothing. This method was used on humans and attempted on Piccolo. Another method, and the one he uses to absorb the androids, revolves around Cell extending his tail to the point where it can engulf a subject and using it to do so when in their presence. If an individual becomes engulfed in the tail, they will be sent downward until entering Cell's body and being integrated into his core. This method differs from the other in that the absorbed individual will remain both completely intact within Cell's body, as was the case with Android #18. Removing the androids from Cell's body previously could cause him to revert to a prior form, though his body has been shown to remember the biological makeup of a transformation in the event that it no longer can be achieved with the subject inside of him and he has had it previously.

Through his tail, Cell is able to create minuscule, childlike versions of himself known as Cell Juniors (セルジュニア Seru Junia?), which are also colored differently from him. They have a margin of Cell's power as they were able to overwhelm most of the heroes, as Cell would, but had trouble with Vegeta and Trunks who Cell beginning in his Perfect Form had been able to dominate wth ease. On top of this, whereas Cell was able to take punches from a Super Saiyan 2 Gohan who was purposely toying with him, the Cell Juniors were destroyed upon contact with Gohan's fist, further demonstrating how much weaker they were to Cell.


Michael Zupan assessed Cell as the Dragon Ball villain with the most buildup, writing, "The Z Fighters throw everything they have at this character, and just when you think he's beat... he transforms into something more powerful."[31] Dennis Amith of J!-ENT described Cell as "the toughest enemy that the team has fought yet" and liked how the efforts of the other characters trying to stop Cell is the main focus of that part of the series.[32] J. Steiff and T. D. Tamplin used Cell as an example of the concept of "leveling up" in anime and believed Cell follows this concept well.[33]

The concept of the Cell Games and its execution were criticized. D. F. Smith of IGN criticized Cell's decision to hold a fighting tournament instead of destroying Earth as a sign of the author having run out of ideas.[34] Reviewer Josh Begley had disapproval toward the tournament as he believed it would feature "endless fighting and no real plot progression."[35] Luke Ryan Baldock took issue with the tournament based season for its lack of plot and high amount of action.[36]


  1. ^ Norio Wakamoto Behind The Voice Actors
  2. ^ Chance, N. (2011). Who Was Who on TV, Band 1. Xlibris Corporation. p. 395. ISBN 978-1-4568-2128-9. 
  3. ^ Dameon Clarke Behind The Voice Actors
  4. ^ Dale Wilson Behind The Voice Actors
  5. ^ Weekly Shōnen Jump #10 February 18, 1992
  6. ^ a b "Shenlong Times 2". DRAGON BALL 大全集 2: STORY GUIDE (in Japanese). Shueisha: 6. 1995. 
  7. ^ a b DRAGON BALL 大全集 1 COMPLETE ILLUSTRATION. Shueisha. 1995. pp. 206–207. ISBN 4-08-782754-2. 
  8. ^ "Dragon Ball Q&A" section, Dragon Ball Full Color Androids Saga volume 4, 2014
  9. ^ "The Monster's Riddle is Solved". Weekly Shōnen Jump. Shueisha (13). March 16, 1992. 
  10. ^ "The Union of God and the Demon King". Weekly Shōnen Jump. Shueisha (10). February 24, 1992. 
  11. ^ Dragon Ball Z manga, volume 15, chapters 177-178
  12. ^ "Hour of Temptation". Dragon Ball Z. Episode 157. October 27, 2000. 
  13. ^ "Super Vegeta". Dragon Ball Z. Episode 155. October 25, 2000. 
  14. ^ Dragon Ball Z manga, volume 16, chapter 191
  15. ^ Dragon Ball Z manga, volume 17, chapter 193
  16. ^ Dragon Ball Z manga, volume 17, chapter 217
  17. ^ Dragon Ball Z manga, volume 17, chapter 218
  18. ^ Dragon Ball Z manga, volume 17. chapter 222
  19. ^ "Save the World". Dragon Ball Z. Episode 191. June 30, 1993. 
  20. ^ "Pay to Win". Dragon Ball Z. Episode 226. May 4, 1994. 
  21. ^ "The Wizard's Curse". Dragon Ball Z. Episode 220. March 9, 1994. 
  22. ^ "Vegeta's Respect". Dragon Ball Z. Episode 280. October 18, 1995. 
  23. ^ "Who Will the 100 Million Zeni Peace Reward Go To…?!". Dragon Ball Super. Episode 1. July 5, 2016. 
  24. ^ "Master and Student Reunion - Son Gohan and "Future" Trunks". Dragon Ball Super. Episode 52. July 17, 2016.
  25. ^ "The Resurrection of Cell and Frieza". Dragon Ball GT. Episode 43. April 23, 1997. 
  26. ^ "17 Times 2". Dragon Ball GT. Episode 44. April 30, 1997. 
  27. ^ Dragon Ball Z: Budokai
  28. ^ Dragon Ball Z: Budokai 2
  29. ^ Dragon Ball: Xenoverse
  30. ^ "2013 Dragon Ball Film's TV Ad Has Voice Cameo by Cell". Anime News Network. 2013-03-21. Retrieved 2013-03-20. 
  31. ^ Zupan, Michael (June 23, 2014). "Dragon Ball Z: Season 5 (Blu-ray)". dvdtalk.com. 
  32. ^ Amith, D. Dragon Ball Z - Season Five DVD Review Archived at WebCite
  33. ^ Steiff, J.; Tristan D. Tamplin (2010). "Cell's Game and the Darwinian Model". Anime and philosophy. Popular Culture and Philosophy. Open Court Publishing. ISBN 978-0-8126-9713-1. 
  34. ^ Smith, D. F. Dragon Ball Z - Season Six DVD Review Archived at WebCite
  35. ^ "Dragon Ball Z Season 5 Blu-ray Anime Review". The Fandom Post. March 3, 2015. 
  36. ^ Baldock, Luke Ryan (February 27, 2013). "Dragon Ball Z Season 6 DVD Review".